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Lightning Round: Victor Hedman honored with fourth Norris nomination

And the Bolts work out the rust in a scrimmage.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, the NHL announced that Victor Hedman was one of the three finalists for this year’s Norris trophy. Numbers are going to look a little weird this year, but Hedman played 66 games and garnered 11 goals and 44 assists in that time. This is his fourth season in a row for scoring 50 or more points. What’s the key to his success? Per this article from Bryan Burns, it’s Hedman’s off-season work on coordination:

“I’ve gone a different route I think the last seven years, and the coaching staff I have back home has helped me tremendously,” Hedman said. “Being a bigger guy, I work a lot with my coordination, my footwork and trying to keep up with the smaller, faster guys. That’s been huge for me. I play on what I think is the best team in the world, and that’s helped me a lot throughout the years. We wouldn’t be here without our teammates, and being on a successful team has helped me a lot. I think the offseason is huge for us players, not just for the rest from the ice but to get prepared for the next season, try and get better and try to improve as a player. I think those summer workouts have a lot to do with that. Super happy with the way the coaches back home have helped me along the way.”

Justing speculates that Hedman will probably finish second in voting this year to an even more prolific offensive defenseman:

It feels like this is Carlson’s award to lose based on the Capitals’ defenseman’s prolific points season. After all 75 points in 69 games is impressive for anybody, let alone a blueliner. So I’ll go out on an edge and say that Hedman finishes second in the final voting. Of course, if Carlson wins it’s renew the debate for another award that honors the best offensive defenseman award while having the Norris Trophy honor someone who actually helped his team keep the puck out of their own net.

The award winner will be announced at some point during the conference final, format and time to be determined.

The Selke finalists were also announced, and I agree with Ryan Callahan.

The Bolts have been spending their camp time before heading up to “Hotel X” in Toronto very productively. Over the weekend, Matt virtually attended practice and the scrimmages, and came away with several observations:

This weekend saw a major focus be put on special teams, and the Lightning wasted little time getting to work on it Saturday morning. Stamkos was a full participant in the first session on Saturday, and did the same on Sunday. He took up his usual spot in the left circle. The power-play units remained unchanged:

PP1:

Stamkos-Point-Kucherov-Killorn-Hedman

PP2:

Palat-Gourde-Johnson-Maroon-Sergachev

Tactically, neither special teams unit did anything new. The power-play structure remained the same with puck movement being quarterbacked by Kucherov/Hedman on the first unit and Sergachev on the second. The penalty kill looked as solid as ever with passing lanes being closed off, keeping the front of the net clear, and staying disciplined in their lanes. However, I felt that both special teams units were just getting back into the groove of things, and will see a bit more of a nuanced alteration once the second week of camp hits.

WFLA picked up some quotes from Coach Cooper about the scrimmage, specifically about the work of the goalies:

The team had been split into a blue team and a white team with the game ending in a shootout because, in Cooper’s words, “either we cannot score or we played really great defense.”

Cooper added both of the goaltenders, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Curtis McElhinney, played exceptionally well.

“Probably,” he admitted, “Some of the pucks that would have gone in did not go in today because of the goaltending. That was great performance. They were on it, rebound control, great positioning, the boys are trying to score and they were there for the challenge.”

Tampa Bay Times covered the scrimmage too. I found Cooper’s discussion of easy communication due to low crowd noise really interesting. Does that mean we should all be silent during intense moments so that the players can hear? Also this quote from McElhinney is extremely relatable.

“I think I’m just trying to have (an) adequate number of shows downloaded before I get up to Canadian Netflix,” backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney deadpanned. “You know, I’m not sure what to expect. I don’t know what our life’s going to look like once we’re up there.”

“It’s probably going to be easier for the guys just in the sense that you can hear everything on the ice,” Cooper said. “And you can hear the guys talking on the bench … everybody. The communication is really good. And so, that’s probably going to help the game; it’s probably going to help the players. Because you don’t realize when the crowd’s really into it how little you actually get to hear.”

Syracuse papers did profiles of Alex Barre-Boulet yesterday, including this one from LocalSyr:

Barre-Boulet is one of eight Crunch players that are “Black Aces” for the parent club Tampa Bay Lightning. He is joined by forwards Mathieu Joseph, Gemel Smith, Alex Volkov and Luke Witkowski, along with defenseman Cal Foote, and goaltenders Spencer Martin and Scott Wedgewood.

In ABB’s interview with Syracuse.com, he gave good perspective on crowd size:

“In the AHL, it’s not always the biggest crowds. For us, it’s not no one in the stands but it’s not NHL crowds. For guys from the AHL, I think we’re just going to be happy to be there and if we get to play we’ll be extremely happy to play. I think it’s going to be an adjustment for the guys but at the same time you’re on the ice and it’s still five on five and you still have the same job to do.”

And finally, if you haven’t seen it already, take a gander at this adorable Distant Thunder ad!